In a season when Oscar-baiting period pieces tend to make me recoil, "Brooklyn" succeeds with a sentimental touch. The tale of a young Irish immigrant examines what "home" really is.

In a season when Oscar-baiting period pieces tend to make me recoil, "Brooklyn" succeeds with a sentimental touch.

The tale of a young Irish immigrant examines what "home" really is, all wrapped up in a sweet love story and held together with a great performance from its lead.

Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) is a young woman growing up in small-town Ireland in the early 1950s. She dreams of broadened horizons, and her journey takes her across the sea to Brooklyn, where she joins an enclave of recent Irish immigrants.

Living in a boarding house, Eilis is initially overcome with a crippling homesickness, which is softened when she meets and falls in love with a young Italian-American named Tony (Emory Cohen). Soon events back in Ireland lead to a homecoming, but as she feels pressure to stay, Eilis wonders where home really is.

When I say "Brooklyn" doesn't give me the same unease a lot of period movies do, it's because it doesn't sacrifice a compelling story just to show off its authenticity. Director John Crowley steers the ship across the pond and back again with a steady hand.

For Saoirse Ronan - her decidedly Irish first name is pronounced, roughly, SEER-shuh if you're wondering - it's a case of a child actor ("Atonement," "Hanna") taking a great next step. It's a warm and nuanced performance, and it couldn't be in better hands.

Overall, "Brooklyn" feels like classic cinema. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll feel at home.